Well, Dance Moms nation, after more than a year of yammering about it to varying degrees, we are finally in L.A. You know, where people go to become stars.
After revisiting why Holly and Jill might be leery of making this move, we head for a strip mall containing a studio that, it turns out, is not Abby Lee’s. ALDC-LA is, it seems, still a work in progress.
Turns out the rent-a-studio is also home to The Rage Dance Company, whose bubbly, bottle-blond coach, Tiffany, sounds a lot like Yvette “You gotta risk it for the biscuit!” Walts. Lots and lots of “get it, girls!” “let’s go, ragers!” “what? what? unh! unh!” encouragements.
Abby decrees it awful. Also, dreadful, horrible and unacceptable.
Everyone bolts for the parking lot and Abby retreats to her car to make a call in private. Jill wants to know what is with her being intimidated by other dancers on Day Freakin’ One. Kendall says they should just go into a practice room and get at it.
Aaaaaand here come Jojo and Jessalyn. Jess says Abby invited them to L.A., so …here they are. Even though dancing is not included in what Abby invited them to L.A. to do. They’re here.
The whole gang heads in to make nice with Tiffany, another coach named Veda, and the ragers and then find a place to start warming up. The ragers rage on. Jill says it’s not the studio or the space that have Abby on the run, it’s her first look at what is going to be the norm for competition out here in La-La-land. Two years to plan for this and this is the best you’ve got to offer on Day 1?
I am nothing more than a passenger in my own journey. With a tasty pack of Sour Patch Kids.
Next we head to the Murietta Dance Studio, home of dance coach Erin Babbs and her team. Oh, what’s this now? A new team of dance moms ready for their closeup? Turns out we’ve met Erin before. She choreographed the Candy Apples’ ill-fated group routine, “The Last Dance,” and says Abby has no idea what she’s made of. Or what the L.A. dance scene is all about, even.
Meanwhile, back at the strip mall, we’re all just sittin’ around waiting on something to happen when Abby calls Kira’s phone. She’s not comfortable with that studio space, so even though we have 3 days to prep for our first big West Coast competition, we’re going to relocate … somewhere. But in the meantime, big news! Audition tomorrow that everyone can be part of!
The mothers aren’t really buying into this. No ideas for the competition, so let’s throw out a distraction. It’s become Abby’s M.O. lately. Storm out or create a smoke screen. We’re not in Pittsburgh anymore, Toto. Oh that Gia were here to save the day!
Gia’s here to save the day. She deflects the mothers’ questions. Never you mind, ladies. Abby’s just runnin’ around, doin’ stuff. Including meeting with John Barba, who, according to Melissa “casted” Transformers and Her with Joaquin Phoenix. Huge in this town. Huge.
Now, about the dancing. Maddie gets the only solo. Everyone will be in the group except Jojo. And that’s final. Gia is not about to go against her boss.
When she says that the group dance will be lyrical, the mothers flip out, pointing out the slam-bam, in-your-face choreography going on across the hall. Gia is firm. Lyrical is what they do best and they’re not about to change just because they’re in L.A. Gia, you save me, girl. Do not go back to Pittsburgh. Do not leave this show.
The mothers think Gia is nervous because she knows they’re right about Abby, but she needs to back The Big Boss up if she wants to keep her gig. So let’s call Abby, just for funsies. Surprisingly she picks up on the first ring and says there’s stuff going down at home, so she might be headed back to PA. Oh sure! When we’re all in Pittsburgh, Abby’s in L.A. When we’re all in L.A., Abby’s headed back to Pittsburgh. We’re starting to think you’re avoiding us, Abby. We are.
Opinions abound. Jill says Abby’s flat out going cray-cray. Holly says she’s running scared. Melissa says she wouldn’t either leave them there in L.A. Just blowing off a little steam is all.
Maddie’s solo is called All God’s Creatures, about a homeless child, and it’s like All Maddie’s Solos.
Back at the Murietta Dance Project studio, meet the new cast of Dance Moms.
I kid. I think. I’m starting to suspect they’re the West Coast version of the Candy Apples, here to give us someone else to be mad at.
Erin tells her little soldiers not to be afraid of this battle, especially Talia (Seitel) who we met in the Guess Who’s Coming to the Dance episode in Season 4 and who will be going head-to-head with Maddie in the solo competition. Erin feels Talia’s a better performer than Maddie; therefore her solo will be called Something Better. Erin feels sorry for anyone who gets in Talia’s way.
At the next day’s mystery audition, we compliment each others’ outfits, then watch Abby get into a foul-mouthed, 400-decibel altercation with someone over a parking spot. Quick! Here she comes! Act like nothing happened!
“Hi. Miss Abby!” Hi!
Holly asks for some words of wisdom for the girls before they head in to, you know, catch their big break. She has some. Er, doesn’t she? Hallooooo?
No. No she does not.
Holly says that’s disgraceful. Abby says she needs to keep her “damn mouth shut!” Not to Holly, though. To Nia. Holly calls her out on it, then everyone flees for the safety of inside the building. There, we meet John Barba, who looks like a very nice man. We also learn — well, those of us who are new to this sort of thing (me) — that this meeting is called a “general.” It’s how new actors pitch themselves to agencies to get on their rosters.
Barba’s cohort Lisa Fields, who also seems like a very nice person, tells the girls that the pair cast everything from ads to Tay-Tay’s “Shake It Off” video. (John Linen, I believe this here would be your cue for this week’s Comments Section Lyrical Rewrite). That last one catches everyone’s attention — Nia’s most of all, because she wants to be a pop star.
The moms get shuttled off to a viewing room, where they discuss the Abby situation.
Jojo volunteers to tackle the script, which is apparently about the anatomy of a cell, first. Then Mack. Kendall. Kalani kills it — but she appears to get to talk about boys instead of science.
Maddie does a good job, too. Lisa says she’s going to cry. Nia goes last. Abby glares at her when she walks in the room. Stay classy, toots.
Nia delivers her lines with panache, but Abby wastes no time in disparaging her efforts in front of her and blaming Holly for it. John Barba says sometimes brave choices are what land a job. Lisa Fields gives Nia a wink.
Nice work, manager. Way to show your expertise.
Holly says she wants Nia to become a star, but not at any cost. Outside, she takes Abby to task for her behavior in Nia’s audition. Abby says she was just trying to stop Nia from looking like a fool (by shooting down her audition on the back end instead of working with her on it on the front end). Holly says it’s time for everyone to stop acting like Abby’s abusiveness is normal.
Deeply preferring normal, Melissa thanks Abby for the opportunity. Jojo smells another one. She pipes up sweetly, asking Abby if she will be at the competition tomorrow. Abby does not know. “We’re still dancing, right?” Jojo wonders. There’s no “jojo” in “we,” kid. But points for trying.
The other mothers want to talk about whether or not Abby will make an appearance; Holly wants to talk about why no one backs her up when she calls out bad behavior. “You fail your daughters because you are afraid of Abby!” she seethes, stalking away.
Yes, but you know … what if one of them lands the science thingie we just read for?
Next day, arriving at the competition, instead of the usual cheering throngs, the mothers are met with a barrage of snide remarks about Abby’s whereabouts. And a couple visual aids about L.A.’s opinion of her talents.
The Murietta Dance Project comes marching in full combat, parade-style — banner and all. Melissa says she knows they’re the hardest-working kids here in L.A. and she is nervous. For. Sure. Holly says she’s not surprised that Abby’s MIA, but if she does show up, she hopes she has her act together.
Er, not so much.
Oh oh. Mama gone nutty and we’re far, far from home. If Abby ever did a walk of shame this is probably what it would look like. Kira thinks so, too.
Where ya been, little brutalized soldier?
With all the confidence of an 8th-grader getting busted shimmying through their bedroom window after midnight, Abby looks around, runs her fingers through her hair, stammers a bit and then starts listing stuff.
Getting all the materials for Maddie’s costume.
Um, getting things set up.
Meetings with song people about songs. And also music.
Then she snaps back to reality and rages about how can the moms be with her for this long and not know that?
Because you have not ever, even back in your hairband days, even when Maryen Lorrain was in her final days, showed up anywhere looking like you slept in an alley, dude. Is how. I’ve been with you a long time, too, Abby Lee.
Abby says it’s the new “networking them around Hollywood” part that’s kicking her keister. And if they can do it better, they can do it and she will just … walk away all like, taaa daaaaa!
You know what this moment needs? This moment needs a little dash of Jojo! And it’s a doozer.
You know, just in case. Something happens. Requiring the swing to swing on in and save the day. Them’s brutal hallways out there. Just look at Abby.
Just leave your hair like that, Jojo. Just leave it like that. Before Abby yanks it right out of your oblivious little noggin.
Insult, meet injury, meet salt in the wound. Here come Erin and a couple MDP moms. Ladies and gentlemen, we indeed have us some LA-LA-Landy Apples. Hi, Abby. Hi!
Best fate you could hope for, sister.
Abby tells the air around her that she’d prefer a fruit basket.
Melissa gets verklempt at Abby’s condition, then rushes off to watch her girl dance.
Talia goes first with “Letting Go.” The dance is clearly designed to beat Maddie at her own game — in fact, I’m pretty sure I’ve seen Maddie do this self-same dance, or damned close, a time or two. Boo, Erin Babbs. Zero points for individuality/creativity/do-your-own-homework-ivity. I saw The Last Dance in its infancy. You know better. You do better. Ack.
Melissa is speechless from Talia’s though. This is her face when her daughter walks onstage (if we’re to believe the editors. Which we don’t).
Once again, the song is annoying as hell, but Maddie emotes the daylights out of the dance. I’m not sure it’s as technically precise as Talia’s but I guess we’ll see what the judges prefer.
After solos, we half-heartedly celebrate Maddie’s efforts and Abby running a comb through her hair and then Erin and her minions show up with a lovely Edible Arrangement. Well, Abby said.
Erin says they’re always excited to compete against the best … so …anyhow … <crickets>.
Melon balls down! Marshmallows on the loose.
Could this day get worse? Why sure! Jess is busily prepping Jojo for the group dance right along side the other mothers. And when the kid comes to grab a costume off the pile, Abby snatches it away. No, Jojo! No! No touching! Bad girl! Greedy little bad girl!
Even though she has been told 1 million and eleven times that her kid is not in the group dance, Jessalyn says Abby’s selfishness is going to catch up with her.
Abby says this is what she can take no more of — children misbehaving because of their mothers, and her being the fall guy for being mean when they do. She’s outtie. For more eating in the car. Girl’s so busy she has to eat in the car and no one appreciates it. It’s enough to make a girl …
Eyes on me, Gia tells the girls. Minds on the dance. Let the grown-ups do what they will.
MDP goes first with Unstoppable. Their ability to do dynamic, complex choreography completely in sync is kind of dazzling. Jill isn’t so sure that the ALDC’s fluffy-bunny lyrical number has enough L.A. pizazz to best it.
Let’s find out.
Everything goes swimmingly until Maddie falls out of a turn at the tail end. Yes, Maddie. Oh well. A few boos boos. Jill hopes the judges won’t notice.
The announcer says that first and second place in the junior solo division both earned perfect scores, forcing a tie-breaker. In second place is Fragile Forest …which is neither Maddie’s nor Talia’s dance. Maddie looks worried, but she takes the win. Turns out Talia wasn’t even Top 5. So put that in your fruit basket and coat it with rich dark chocolate, Erin.
Turns out first and second were both perfect in the group dance, too, necessitating another tie-breaker. Are we sure L.A. is the toughest dance-competition scene out there? What’s with all this perfect?
ALDC gets second. MDP gets first. Holly says that’s all on Abby. What shall we do about it? Holly’s not waiting around to find out. Saying that teaching morals is the most important thing, she heads out into the hallway to make a call. A mystery woman answers. And we have our first potential defector in the good doctor and her kid.
Next week on Dance Moms, Holly and Abby have a heart-to-heart and ALDC LA might be down an AL.
So what say you, Dance Moms nation? Is the pressure of life in L.A. too much for Abby or is this all part of a plan to get out of a fine legal-and-otherwise mess? Do you believe the actions of anyone out of their teens is an honest one anymore? As always, our battle cry of less fighting, more dancing? What do you make of the MDP? Sound off in the comments section below.
New episodes of Dance Moms premiere Tuesday nights at 9/8CT on Lifetime.